Vail Daily column: Festival too big for Vail?
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com. Also, regarding parking: KAABOO organizers are promising out-of-town parking with shuttle bus service to the festival site. The Vail Town Council won’t vote on the proposal until at least July 19.
There will be major costs to produce an event of the KAABOO magnitude. If the past is prologue, as in the recent FIS Ski Championships, then one could easily imagine production costs in the millions. Are the promoters and the Vail Valley Foundation going to cover those costs? To get immediate approval, they claim they are, but are they willing to agree to abandon their plans if costs exceed their ability? Or, later on, will they ask the town of Vail to contribute? And will a town of Vail contribution to such an event require foregoing other expenditures and/or capital improvements?
Parking requirements would be enormous. The parking requirements are readily calculable; at the usual standard of 2.4 persons per vehicle, a crowd of 15,000 would require parking places for over 6,000 vehicles, a crowd of 30,000 over 12,500 spaces. The Vail Homeowners Association asked for a town-wide inventory of available parking, but that request has been ignored. Some parking could be accommodated in Vail hotels and surrounding communities, but, even then, there appears to be not enough parking spaces sufficient to even begin to handle such a crowd. That means either complete chaos — as with the July 4 parade — or a new major public transportation system with off-site (i.e., outside of Vail) parking. In addition, none of this takes into account the expected upswing in summer traffic and parking needs due to the new Vail Resorts on-mountain rides and activities.
Without a doubt there would need to be road closures around Gerald R. Ford Park, probably for much longer than just the target weekend. Set-up and tear-down could extend the impacts on Ford Park and the surrounding roadways for at least several weeks. Also, not yet considered from what we know is that the resulting congestion will be potentially magnified several fold by Interstate 70 construction of the Simba Run underpass.
There will also be impacts on two of Vail’s crown jewels, Gore Creek and the Betty Ford Gardens, as well as the Nature Center Preserve, even though they have not yet been quantified. How are these facilities going to be protected? Beyond that, there could also be serious impacts on the town’s infrastructure from having that many people concentrated in the town over a single weekend. Who is going to fund the necessary maintenance that will have to follow?
What is the role of the Vail Valley Foundation? The Vail Valley Foundation is a charitable entity whose purpose is to sustain and enhance the quality of life of the Vail community through art, athletic and educational programs. As a private entity, community residents ordinarily would have no reason to question its activities, but when those activities impact the community as a whole, questions arise. Maybe a broad reading of the Vail Valley Foundation mission could encompass bringing a weekend supersized music festival to Vail, but it does seem to raise the question on whose behalf is the foundation acting? What is the Vail Valley Foundation’s obligation to protect the quality of life in the valley? Does this venture respect the Vail Valley Foundation’s historic role as a community building institution? Or, has the foundation quietly moved on to become a promoter of economic development for the business community and Vail Resorts? Does this venture square with the Vail Valley Foundation mission, and, if not, should the foundation be involved in promoting it? These would seem to be questions that should be addressed before the foundation forms a partnership to take on such a venture.
Is this a harbinger of things to come? The history of events show that once established they tend to grow larger — that is the plan for this event, doubling in size in just five years. And beyond the sheer size of the KAABOO, would it be a foot in the door to other similar sized events on other weekends? After all, most weekends are already occupied so the only way to grow summer business would be to make events bigger. This is not unique to Vail or confined to town events. If Vail Resorts is successful with its on-mountain activities, the pressure will quickly grow to expand them and bring even more people onto the mountain.
Next steps: The Vail Homeowners Association has serious reservations about this project. It believes that no decision should be made next month or until such time as the community has had adequate time to review all the consequences of the proposal. We, therefore, call on the Vail Town Council to delay making a decision until there has been a full and considered investigation. Send a letter or email expressing your opinion to the Vail Town Council.
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